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Being Mum Lifestyle Travel


How do you celebrate the fact that you’ve existed for thirty laps around the Sun? Take all your friends to a remote location in Wales with their children seemed like the appropriate answer. Best to lure them with the smell of Champagne as a thank you arrival drink for making it off the beaten track late on a Friday evening post work.  It’s lovely being a parent, most of the time but it’s even better when you can enjoy parenting while still celebrating with friends. That was what I was attempting to achieve and I think mostly it worked out well.

The majority of my friends now have their own children and when deciding on a plan for my 30th birthday celebrations I wanted to incorporate family as much as possible. Child friendly but still fun and luxurious was the vibe I was going for and I hope I hit the mark with it. In a surprise turn out both my children were well and healthy as we set off on our way to Wales, stopping over at my parents house to break up the journey. Stored in the back somewhere was my tower of Champagne glasses, a bag full of frozen canapés, two bags full of stuff for two children with our things crammed wherever they will fit, a double pram. This was pretty light packing, Sebastian was thankfully using his carrycot still and would be sleeping in that – I’ll be writing about the Bugaboo Donkey2 shortly it’s really impressed me. Ariella was going to be transitioning into a single bed with blow up Hippychick Dream Tubes, although she did fall out of bed once they worked very well for her and didn’t take up much space at all in the car.

The house we had rented for the weekend was screaming Hygge inside and out, from its several log burners, candle lit lanterns, books scattered around to its outside pizza oven, star-gazing wooden hot tub and it’s tree swings. On arriving I quickly assigned rooms before everyone else arrived and set to getting the buffet table sorted. Once both children were fed and asleep I could really appreciate the beauty of rural Wales up in the Brecon Beacons, the only sound to be heard was of sheep just outside. I really recommend visiting if you haven’t before, it’s absolutely wonderful. We were very lucky with the weather, the entire duration of the long weekend the Sun was shining on us and the clouds very clear which made for excellent star-gazing at night.

Half of the group the next day went gliding, which I’m told was fabulous and the other half turned part of the old cottage into a spa with our own personalised therapist. The weekend was full of good food, nice drinks and lovely cocktails – topped off by a private chef cooking a three course dinner the final evening.

I want to talk about a change in mentality since turning thirty. Three weeks have passed since my birthday weekend and I’ve pondered on many things, how could I have used up thirty years already for one. But also reflecting on where I am now, parenting and the everyday stresses that surround it alongside the additional stresses of the last few months, of coeliac disease, global developmental delay and epilepsy. The screaming has returned a little the last couple of weeks and on top of this Ariella is going through the typical twos, she wants to be doing one thing but time demands we do another. The social communication delay makes it at times difficult for both of us to understand each other. It occurred to me last week while becoming frustrated with the constant screaming (we have building work going on at the moment which means lots of noises) that I’m fortunate to not have somewhere crucial to be on a day-to-day basis yet; I’m always trying to rush Ariella along, getting ready to go out the house, getting down the garden steps to the car, in the car, to the final destination once we’ve driven. I was sat in the nursery car park watching all the parents in the morning drop off their children, rushing to get to work when it dawned on me that I don’t need to rush and what would actually happen if we just slowed down to Ariella’s pace.

There are few things that are critical, hospital appointments yet but everything else is just a nicety. If Ariella doesn’t mobilise herself because she’s focusing on something else, or stops in the middle of the path to look at a stick then it’s less stressful for all of us if I just let her get on with it. She is lucky that we can do that, why not take advantage of it. When you are being screamed at daily, for long durations is easy to lose sight of the light at the end of the tunnel but the bigger picture is there. We have two beautiful children, a wonderful home, two fluffy cats (even if one of them does like to have a wee on a tea towel) and time. We have all the time in the world, I appreciated the time my own mother gave to me as a child, forgoing work to stay at home. A true luxury these days to be able to do so, to be able to take Ariella to all her therapy sessions, her hospital appointments and ultimately watch her and her brother grow.

I also have decided that from now on I am going to invest into others what is invested in me, embrace shorter hair and try to appreciate every single day without worrying about what is around the corner.

Being Mum Featured Lifestyle Parenting Travel

Travelling to the Maldives with a toddler – Our trip

If you haven’t caught up on the first part of this post then you can read about the flight here. Else you’ve come to the right place, here and now The Maldives. I’d love to say it was just the same as our trip back in 2013 for our honeymoon, it wasn’t – it was different but this time around it was for the family. Last time I felt utterly relaxed one hundred percent, I could spend all day just doing nothing, browsing the sky, the stars and watching the calm sea in which hidden under it was life.

This time around it was less self-indulgent and more about the whole family, it took us a little while to get Ariella used to eating out every night. It took a little while to adjust her and us to the jet lag, you can’t just sleep it off when you have a child to attend to. It was magnificent to go back and include her in our adventure, she sat on sand for the first time and what sand to sit on it was. Everything aspect of the Maldives is designed to look appealing on the eye, to be luxurious and accommodating. Largely their career prospects are naturally tourism, when you live in such a secluded paradise what else can you expect? They are good at it, excellent in fact.

The day we arrived was warm but a little cloudy, it rarely stays cloudy for long during the dry season (Dec – April) and we only had one real rain storm on our last full day before we flew home. It was ideal weather to ease Ariella into the change in temperature, as well as us! Ariella was knackered and so were we, we settled her down for a nap but she wouldn’t sleep so we ended up waiting until proper nap time (timing adjusted for the location) which worked out really well. We really didn’t struggled that much on the way there, it was much harder adjusting back. Ariella fit really well into the travel cot,  I was concerned that she might be too long for it but they had huge travel cots and I think she was as comfortable in it as she is at home.

On Friday evenings the Island lights up for a Maldivian themed event, cocktails, entertainment, food stations and live music. All the other restaurants close and everyone dines as one with lots of food being made up. It was a real welcome and was love to involve Ariella in, at this point she didn’t seem to mind staying up late – I guess for her being five hours ahead it didn’t feel that late. The island provided sarong’s for us all to wear and we fashioned Ariella one, as you do. We watched the bar staff perform and drank lots of Champagne, we were eased into the holiday with a bang. It was such a wonderful evening, I felt like we had returned – I had dreamt of returning for years and finally we were back! Ariella went down a hit with all the other guests who adored her.

The bar staff were juggling with wine, it was really cool to see! Then they knocked all these Jager bombs into the glasses with one hit.

It was wonderful to wake up the next day (and every day!) to our own lap pool, the first night I lapped the pool with the stars above and below me. Ariella enjoyed the pool too, the little swimming toys I had picked up were perfect fun. We even incorporated the flexible bucket for her to gather each of the swimming toys up in and collect them tidy. I highly rate the Jojomamanbebe sun protection swimwear and hats, it really was a life saver over there. Really easy to wash out and then dry in the sunshine, very light weight so you don’t need to worry that they were get too hot.
I think given that we had brought a small human with us to the Maldives we did pretty well to include her in as much as possible. When we went to the pool for snacks and cocktails we always grabbed a bed, this allowed her to use her iPad while we enjoyed our drinks and watched the horizon. If not the iPad then I would take along a mobile toy, her Grimms rainbow friends came with us. The island was actually at full capacity for a large portion of our stay but never felt crowded and there were always places to sit wherever you wanted.

We even did the excursions but were careful to pick things that we felt were child friendly enough. This is us on the Sunset dolphin cruise, I think if Ariella had been walking at this point we wouldn’t have but seeing as she wasn’t going to be running around on an open boat (without sides in places) it worked well.

Ariella’s having fun in the Kids playroom, thankfully air-conditioned

We ate as a family quite a lot in the evenings, but occasional to break up the holiday we decided to book a babysitter from the kids club. This worked really well as Ariella was familiar with the staff and we were able to enjoy the other restaurants on the island more which had considerably longer menus. We did attempt to take Ariella to the Chinese restaurant one evening which had a huge amount of different courses, she really didn’t cope well and I can’t blame her! We learnt our lesson after that. I think a lot of this is trial and error, eating later was tricky for Ariella – she was eating from 7pm in the Maldives whereas at home she eats around 5.15 – 5.30pm. I do wish they had a high tea style offering, usually the hotels we stay in the UK do an it’s really handy!

Our butler did a fantastic job scheduling our dining bookings for the holiday, I hadn’t really thought to do that before we arrived. But we were able to get 7pm bookings for all the restaurants which is prime time, Ariella dined in the Indian restaurant (Indocelyn) with us with a little star, the main buffet style restaurant (The Palms) as well as the fine dining Seafood underwater restaurant (M6M). We took her once to the Chinese restaurant (Peking) which turned out to be our very favourite.
Much time was spent enjoying the beach, as we opted for a beach villa we had direct access to the beach and Ariella while not initially liking the feeling of sand eventually came to accept it. It’s definitely still not her favourite but she didn’t mind sitting near it (and eating it).

The housekeeping staff would make up lots of interesting animals for Ariella out of towels or palm leaves. She was made to feel really welcome, it was lovely to see what animal would be waiting for us next – they kept us guessing though by not always doing it!
The underwater restaurant called M6M which we went to twice, once with Ariella during the day and then next for our wedding anniversary in the evening. The evening was a lot more relaxing, but I’m glad that I attempted it with Ariella in the day. She couldn’t manage to stay still for the full menu but she loved seeing all the fish.

Our anniversary cake, the lovely staff sang to us!

Holiday with Ariella was a compromise, the day we played and swam, we ate and we had good fun. During the evenings while Ariella slept were our own, we read books, we swam, we enjoyed drinks from the mini bar (best mini bar we’ve ever had!) and we watched the stars. I could by the end of the holiday have stayed here forever, all together

Building castles in the sky.

One of the rooms of the spa

Long before arriving I emailed the spa reception team to ask them to book our spa appointments for the holiday. I arranged for us to each have four treatments spread out so that one had one during one day then the next day the other had theirs. A few days gap between every now and then worked out really well. This meant that it felt fair and we had an hour’s pampering each session, during some of Jamie’s treatments I would call a buggy to take me and Ariella to the kids club and that would pass the time quickly. Last time we came to the Maldives the Island we stayed on did have a kids club but I confess I wouldn’t know where. It was nice to have access to an air-conditioned room with toys, I only took a few key toys with us.

Jamie also went fly boarding twice, it looked all very worrying for me from a distance – I watched from our Villa. But he seemed to enjoy it and on his first go lots of dolphins came to swim with him which he is told has never happened before. I can understand the attraction I suppose, ha!


A turkish delight sunset, there is nothing like the Maldivian sunsets.

We did have one big eventful stress while there which was when we realised one day before leaving that we had run out of nappies! It was early morning and I thought we had more stored in our luggage as it turned out we didn’t. Our butler sorted things out for us really quickly, someone fetched some more nappies from the main island Male and brought them back by boat. Surprisingly this didn’t cost a fortune as there were already sending the boat out for departures.

Flying home with Ariella

If you are wondering whether to take your toddler with you on a long haul flight, to a hot country, maybe one that generally more of an adult destination. I say do it! We would do it again, Ariella coped marvellously, she did bite both our faces during a tantrum about her high chair – that happened but I think she would have done that anyway. It was amazing, it was relaxing and it was beautiful – nothing is off-limits. If you can think of it there is always way to do it and I say you won’t know unless you try! For us we will have these memories of our holiday forever and that’s all you get folks.

Being Mum Featured Travel

Ariella’s first trip abroad, London to Dubai, Dubai to Malé

Preparing to be confined to a relatively small space with a wriggly demanding toddler and actually being confined to a relatively small space with a wriggly demanding toddler are two very different experiences. All in we prepare well, we had a whole manner of snacks of which had been separated down into two plastic bags written with a good old sharpie, “Out going flight snacks” and “In going flight snacks”. I laced these with all her favourites, chocolate, crisps, pom bears (why do they like them so much?). I also ordered online using Boots air side a collection of Hipp Organic toddler meals which conveniently can be eaten cold or hot, those went down a hit. We didn’t use them much on the flight on the way as it was pretty much a sleeper flight for Ariella. A chauffeur service with Emirates was scheduled to pick us up at what was to be a reasonable time of morning, car seat prepared (they called us the day before to confirm what type of seat) we sat down in a very overly large Mercedes as the driver began the journey towards Gatwick taking a scenic route to avoid the motorway – it was a week day morning and I was quite pleased to see green rather than the long and straight of the M25. We whizzed through security using the priority lanes and soon enough we were searching down somewhere to have lunch.  I realised a day before that they had a Wagamama’s airside in Gatwick’s North Terminal, a couple of hints and we were heading there for lunch rather than making use of the Business Class lounge which I think would have been okay too.

Monkey in Wagamamas

I think sticking with the known was best, given that we knew it would lead to Ariella starting the flight off with a full belly and I had hoped she might be inclined to take her afternoon nap while on board. After lunch we hung around the lounge enjoying the many beverages on offer while Ariella sat watching BBC News on the TV behind her and eventually turning to her iPad.

Before we knew it we were boarding the plane, Ariella enjoyed all the Hello’s and Good Afternoon’s – the novelty still very much there we headed up the stairs and found our seats. Immediately from this point onwards I was acutely aware of Ariella’s noise level, however we were pleasantly surprised with her ability to cope. She was soon hooked into the entertainment system and her iPad was hardly used on the trip out, with a variety of CBeebies, Disney films and other children TV shows for her to watch instead.

On board the A380

What she didn’t do a lot of was sleep, not on our way to Dubai anyway. She skipped her usual nap and it was difficult to prise her away from all the buttons and gadgets on offer. Even with the seat flat like a bed and “In the night garden” episodes on a constant loop she wouldn’t drift off. I couldn’t complain too much, we were able to get an extra empty seat nearby so while she was happy to just lie there watching TV we were somewhat happy (with cocktails in hand and a constant supply of caffeine). I found the huge expanse of time, watching the clock slowly tick by was a struggle even with the excellent flight information and cameras to watch the sky from. I should have packed a book for myself to read as I wasn’t able to fully concentrate on the flight entertainment myself while listening out for Ariella. We had picked great seats, I left Jamie to sort this out – on the A380 leg we had the middle seats of two together and with the middle screen down it felt like our own little space.

I hadn’t anticipated how we would navigate eating on the flight either with Ariella on one of our laps. It wasn’t until bedtime that we realised the flight wasn’t at full capacity and gained the extra seat which would have solved this issue. However on the flight back we rotated the meals, so the crew gave us our meals at slight intervals and we asked for the trays to be cleared as soon as possible so the next one could switch seats.

We kept the night-time routine as normal as we could, brushed her teeth, put her into her PJ’s and hoped she might fall asleep for a little before we hit Dubai (local time midnight). She didn’t, this was probably the most stressful part as she was tired and it was time for bed for her. For the last hour or so we had to keep her entertained with walks of the cabin, Jamie took her up to the bar for a while. Before we knew it we were making our descent down to Dubai ready to brave security again and to seek out the next lounge.

I popped Ariella into the Tula once we had landed, it was uncomfortable for a short duration as the outside temperature in Dubai was rather warm. But once in the air-conditioned airport it was perhaps the best option. Dubai Airport offer strollers which you can pickup and use all the way to boarding your plane. This is handy and while we didn’t make use of it on our way we did on the way back, I think it’s a great idea. Ariella wasn’t too happy at this point and the airport was heaving with traffic. I’ve never seen so many people, the lounge was rammed too I wouldn’t want to have been trying to find a seat outside. We found some snacks, water and more importantly seats and did our best to keep Ariella happy with her iPad while we waited for our connection flight. Luckily we rarely had to wait around long and after an hour or so we headed to our gate and boarded the plane straight away using the priority lanes.

Once on board I strapped Ariella in and she fell asleep in my arms immediately, Dubai to Male was around four hours she slept for three and a bit only waking once we started our descent down again. During which I decided to forgo my meal allowing Jamie to eat (I had dinner on the previous plane when he did not) and nursed my early morning champagne with my free hand wondering how long we would be waiting for our speed boat transfer.

Second leg, Dubai to Male

As it turns out not long, which was really welcoming given that we were all pretty tired by this point. Local time 8am, UK time 3am five hours difference in time but they do a pretty reasonable job on the flight to try to reset your clock. It had felt like we had sort of had an evening and night but also not. Staff assigned for the island resort were waiting for us once we had claimed our bags and gone through passport control, which came out first – Thank you Emirates! We waited in a little air-conditioned area while he gather up a few other guests whom were arriving shortly. We took this time to take Ariella to be changed into her dress, hat and applied suncream.
Before long we were on the speed boat, which was also air-conditioned and Ariella fell asleep in my arms again – it was only a forty minute transfer. The ride was choppy, I was amazed she managed to fall asleep but she did. Meanwhile I was trying not to throw up, still get sea sick – it had been years since I had been on a ferry at sea and lost my lunch to it. I’m glad to say I did not repeat this experience however clearly if I had then I wouldn’t be the first, they had provided bags, tissues and mints for the poor souls who might.

I was also expecting to have to wait quite a while for our Villa to be ready once we made it to the island. It was coming up to 9am by this point local time and for us 4am, I definitely felt that lack of sleep vibe. I also felt like I had been catapulted through the air at high speeds, which I replicated on the way back – does anyone else find this? Before long the boat had docked and we were taking steps off the boat onto the jetty. The weather was warm but a little cloudy, we headed to reception to check-in and find out how long the wait would be. A lovely member of staff greeted us with champagne in hand and we sat while taking in the views, hoping that Ariella would be happy enough for a little while longer now that she had slept even if just a little.

With delight we were told our Villa was ready! Before we knew it we were heading down to it on a golf buggy, sheer delight that we could put Ariella down to sleep in her own bed and that the journey was over with hit me and I finally felt like I could relax. Ariella fell asleep eventually and we let her. We decided to keep her up after the nap until after dinner and before long we had changed her over to the new time zone.

Next up I’ll be writing about all our fun while on the Island, stay tuned!

Our Holiday in the Maldives – Part 2

Being Mum Lifestyle Parenting Travel

Packing for three

Pre children packing…

This is rather enjoyable, look at this adorable dress, I’ll fold it all up neatly, do I have matching items for outfits?

Packing post children…

Mummy is packing now, please can you put that back, maybe if I tip toe I can pack while you are asleep, did I pack enough of X, Y, X for you? What If I don’t pack enough of Y?

For the first time I have a spreadsheet to keep tabs on all the items I need to pack for all three of us, with the run up of appointments for Ariella (Hello Neurology, Hydrotherapy, Portage) and appointments for myself – some self-inflicted, I would actually like my hair done before I go too! Others not so much, perfectly timed appointment to follow-up about my thyroid right before we fly. It’s definitely starting to feel like time is working against me, but we will rewarded with a huge amount of downtime and relaxation – yeah I know, we shall see right?

The spreadsheet I’ve created is very simple, it lists items, where they are going (hold/hand luggage and who’s) whether they have been purchased and finally have they been packed. You can make things easier with a Yes/No cell format and have it highlight certain colours if something hasn’t been packed or hasn’t been purchased. I also tucked a neat little “To do” task list in there to remind me to make a Boots order to be collected airside, arrange travel insurance etc. This spreadsheet might be considered overboard for some people but I find it aids my ability to keep calm and in control.

Monday, the slippage in my plans already started to show, I ordered Ariella some Piedro sandals for her holiday but no word from Piedro so I thought, hey I’ll call them Monday and find out where they are. Only to be told that the sandals are custom-made (eh?) and would take twenty-one – working – days to arrive due to lack of stock. Which would definitely be too late, so I told the guy cancel them if they can’t be made before we go. He gives me a run off about custom orders cannot be refunded if they’ve been started, bemused I thank him for his efforts and wait his reply from the manufacturer.

Meanwhile I try to get my head around how I could possibly have missed this window that is “clearly on the website when ordering”. Alas I did not, I go to order the sandals again and right there next to them “14 days delivery” and off the shelf item. I phone back, explain that the sandals are neither custom and that the 14 day delivery next to the product is misleading. He apologised and now we wait to find out from the manufacturer as to whether they will arrive in time or be cancelled (with a full refund thank you very much). Still this leaves me with one pair of Disney sandals, purchased on a whim and certainly lacking any kind of ankle support. I’ll have to try hard to find something else before we go, but at least I know I did my very best!

Needless to say Piedro are leaving me quite underwhelmed in terms of the purchasing experience right now. If you know of any great alternatives I’d be interested to hear about them!

EDIT – Another twist in the ever eventful game of procuring Piedro sandals, it turns out that they are coming after all in time for our trip. I’ll believe it when I see it but apparently the system was wrong!

To keep Ariella entertained on the flight I’ve picked up a couple of things which I thought would be worth sharing. As Ariella won’t get a proper meal (she isn’t two yet so would only be able to have a baby meal on Emirates) I’ve ordered some meals from Boots for her, but I needed something to put them in so I bought this OXO Tot bowl set which has lids and seemed quite compact. We actually were able to change her meal from “baby meal” to “standard” but I’m not relying on this actually working, if it does I’ll update this! I’m really happy with the quality, I may make her some pasta and store it inside the larger one for her dinner. I also purchased a OXO Tot Flippy Snack Cup which I thought would be great for snacks, she tends to tip things out so having this little lid on it which toddlers can put their hands into is perfect. Although it’s taken Ariella a bit longer to master as her fine motor isn’t as developed she is starting to get the hang of it – I intend to let her use it at home a bit before.

I wanted to travel quite light but still have things other than the iPad to amuse Ariella during the flight, I thought stickers seemed a good plan however I didn’t want to get ones which she could stick everywhere. These reusable stickers Melissa and Doug Reusable Sticker pad – Habitats are just right, they aren’t sticky at all but only “stick” to the surface of the pad. More like thing static sticking plastic than a sticky sticker. It works though and I’m happy with it! My only complaint is that it’s a little bit big for hand luggage, if it was just a bit smaller that would be better.

Ariella trying on some Jojomamanbebe sun protection swimwear. It fits!

A peek inside Ariella’s hand luggage

There are a couple of things missing which I’ll be packing last minute, a few more nappies, a blanket, more food, dummy and snuggle elephant.

Handy tips for packing with children

You would think it would be sensible to pack each of us into separate luggage, this is how I’ve always packed previously. However a handy tip is to pack things equally, this way if one piece of luggage is lost (temporarily or forever) then the impact on your holiday as a whole is minimised. I do like to build in redundancy!

Another tip which may be obvious but roll your clothes instead of folding, you’ll be surprised how much extra room you have if you do this and your clothes should be less creased.

Decant your large liquids into small travel bottles, there is no need to take your huge tub of shampoo all the way across the world with you. If you need more than 100ml then buy a smaller bottle and take them with you instead. I’ve decanted some suncream specially into my hand luggage like this so that we can cream Ariella up ready for the speed boat leg of the journey.

Make sure you pack appropriate clothing for the other side! You might well be sitting around for a while, you don’t want to be too hot or too cold so be sure to pack something that you can either take layers off (a dress with leggings for example) or take something to change into on the plane and if sunny then a hat/sunglasses.

Take spare sets of clothing in case there are any accidents! Bring along a set of PJ’s so you can keep the routine on the plane.

I should mention that we’ve agreed to ditch social media and our phones for the duration of the holiday but I’ll be updating on our return and may sneak a picture of two on The Unruffled Mum Instagram during our stay.

Being Mum Parenting Travel

Ariella’s holiday wardrobe

I’m so pleased that I’ve been able to accumulate such wonderful pieces for Ariella’s holiday wardrobe, after a few items arrived this week we are pretty much there with completing her holiday wardrobe. The only things missing now are shoes, a few more swimsuits and possibly a UV all in one. I need to speak with her physiotherapist about ordering the Piedro sandals as the specification is very detailed.

Most of the clothing was purchased in the UK Summer sales or sales during this Winter that we were just lucky to get hold of. However this last week or so holiday wardrobes have been sprouting up everywhere, I was able to get some great new season Gap items further down this post. This is all a mixture of the following brands – Piccalilly, Viller Valla, Gap, Polarn O. Pyret, Next, Monsoon, Blue Zoo and Jojomamanbebe.

When I laid it all out like this I was really surprised how much she has, I think it’s important to have more clothes than not when you have a child who is either messy or is sick quite a lot. We won’t be able to go to any shops so having things to hand is key and we have such a generous luggage allowance, why not? I love the different prints, the variety in the T-shirts she has available and then a few playsuits for on the beach. I really feel that the organic designer has more vivid colours, It’s really inspired me to look into independent designers – something I was somewhat forced to do due to being out of season.

I was super pleased with the additional last few orders from Gap, I feel their new holiday collection really increases the outfit options. Beautiful teal’s, pinks and vibrant summer colours which will hold their ground in the sharp sunlight.

I couldn’t find her green aviator style glasses for the picture at the time but alas I’ve managed to find them since. This Jojomamanbebe sunglass strap is ideal, it can be attached to normal toddler glasses to help keep them on their face. Ariella’s head size is over the size for any baby glasses so this is the perfect next stage for her. You can buy lots of holiday wear online from Jojo all year around so if you can’t find it in store check online with them. Their hats are great, we’ve used them in Summer during the warmer months, whoever came up with little straps underneath – Thank you!

The only swimsuit so far (other than her normal UK swimsuit for Hydrotherapy) is this one below from the GAP haul. Beautiful minty, teal really so happy that they brought this out in time for us!

Now I just need to get us sorted out – and a last few bits for Ariella, Before we say bon voyage!

Being Mum Lifestyle Parenting Travel

Packing for a long haul trip to the Indian Ocean with a toddler

Since Ariella was born we haven’t taken her on a plane, we decided to go for an American trend the “Babymoon” instead while I was pregnant to Antigua as our last holiday for a while. It’s much easier to transport them when they don’t know what’s going on! and can’t protest. We wanted to take advantage of the discounts children receive when flying and staying in resorts before she is two so decided 2017 was the year to jump right in and take Ariella out of the UK. Typically we don’t do things by half measures and booked in for a seven hour flight with a two hour stop over followed by a four hour flight touching down in the capital of the Maldives. After which we will grab a boat transfer to our island, I can’t remember how long this is!

This therefor requires a little thought and forward thinking on our part, keeping a toddler entertained for seven hours in a confined space only to repeat the process again two hours later is quite a feat. Challenge accepted! To make this as easy as possible I wanted to be sure to pack everything we would need.


We are lucky that Ariella get’s her own hand luggage allowance, this varies depending whom you fly with so check ahead of time. I couldn’t decide at first what would be the most simple solution for Ariella’s hand luggage. I wanted it to be accessible as I would most likely be taking it down from the overhead storage often, but also if possible something fun and interesting for her.

I spent a lot of time looking online and really loved the Trunki, but as Ariella doesn’t like riding on her Microscooter yet I have my suspicions that she won’t want to ride on a Trunki (which has even less support). I would definitely get this is she did, but instead I thought a small backpack would be okay for her hand luggage and we will use the same hold-all we use for her normally as her hold luggage.

The backpack I’ve ordered is this Babymel Zip & Zoe Mini backpack with reins from Jojomamanbebe. I’m guessing if Ariella is walking by March then she can wear it which will be fun for her, the reins are removable. I’m undecided if I would use them or not, it really depends on how Ariella listens to instruction when walking. If she isn’t walking by then, one of us can easily carry it and although it won’t fit her iPad in, we will put this in one of our hand luggage bags instead.

Picture credit – Jojomamanbebe website

What I’m packing in our hand luggage

Ariella’s hand luggage

I always find it useful when packing for Ariella to consider her needs and split them down. For example I look at it like this.

Food & Water

Ariella won’t get food on the flight as she will be sharing our seats, so I’ll be taking two meals for the plane and we will have lunch at the airport together. I may stock up on my snacks for Ariella in the lounge too. We have weaned Ariella completely off milk and bottles but if you haven’t then you can always order your milk to Boots in the airport (airside) a few days before and collect it there.

The things in her hand luggage will be:

  • A bottle of water (purchased airside)
  • A cup
  • Healthy snacks for the plane and boat transfer
  • Dinner and Breakfast for the plane


We will try and keep her routine the same on the flights, so she will need all the things that she would normally to sleep.

  • Elephant comfort snuggler
  • A dummy
  • PJ’s for the flight
  • A blanket


This required a little forward thinking, I know from my own experience that Ariella will be very warm in any UK clothes over there so we intend to change her into more appropriate clothing on route. She will need suncream too as I’m not sure the boat transfer is covered and we will arrive in morning.

  • 4 x Nappies for the flight
  • 1 x Fresh wet wipes – We use the water wipes but any will do
  • 1 x Nappy bag pack
  • 1 x Changing mat
  • 1 x Summer dress
  • 1 x Sun hat
  • 1 x Sandals
  • 1 x Sun glasses
  • 1 x Travel pot of suncream – I’ll decant this myself into little travel size pots
  • 1 x Toothbrush
  • 1 x Travel pot of tooth paste – I’ll decant this myself too
  • 1 x Travel size nappy cream


I think this was probably the hardest to decide on, normally people recommend that you bring some toys that your child has never seen before for the flights. Stickers, small fidget toys, mess free art are some of the many examples but Ariella takes time to warm up to things in her environment so we are in her case going to take some favourites. I’m expecting the experience of the flight to be quite overwhelming for her so some reminders of normal will be good.

We will take:

  • Ariella’s iPad – I’ll load this with plenty of games, Cbeebies is available on a special children’s player app and you can download those too.
  • iPad charger
  • Headphones for the iPad
  • Books, we haven’t decided on these yet but will see where she is when we fly
  • Toys – A few small favourite toys nearer the time

We won’t need much for us, we will use the packs they give you on the flight mostly and perhaps a change of summer clothes for when we get there. This time we will take all our coats for the return trip in the UK, last time we went it was 0 degrees when we flew back and I was wearing flip flops and summer wear, I hadn’t packed a coat! Of course essentials like travel documents will go in ours too!

What’s going in the hold?

Change/Hygiene and Medicine

The Maldives requires no vaccinations and is free from Malaria, last time we visited we didn’t see any mosquitoes so we won’t bother taking spray this time.

In Ariella’s hold luggage we will pack:

  • Bulk of the nappies – We will take a months supply with us, knowing how a change in diet can upset little tummies we want to be prepared!
  • 4 x Waterwipes – We’ve allocated two packs a week
  • 2 x Factor 50 suncream, we will take a lesser spf one for us but we love the Banana boat range for Ariella.
  • Thermometer
  • Sachets of nurofen/calpol – These are great for travelling and they come portioned.
  • Summer clothes – T Shirts, shorts, dresses, beach play suits
  • Swim nappies – Plenty of swim nappies! I’ll probably take the disposable ones although I’m a big fan of the happy nappy reusable option normally.
  • Toddler toiletries – Shampoo, Wash and her thermostat for the bath.
  • Swimwear – lots of sets, over there it’s very warm and you spend most of your time in your swim wear.
  • Swimsuit UV Protected – The sun is very strong in the Maldives so I’ll be taking a UV suit for Ariella to wear when we feel that she will be out playing without shade.


  • 14 x Toddler snacks, enough for one a day in case Ariella doesn’t enjoy the food but given she eats so much variety I can’t imagine this will be an issue.


In addition to the hand luggage we are taking.

  • The rest of the PJ’s
  • Baby monitor – This will be useful for us in the evenings


Most family resorts have a kids club, ours will allow Ariella in if we pay for a babysitter as well (because she’s under the age range for the club). We expect to spend most of our time with Ariella and have coordinated our spa treatments which are already booked so that we can alternative them, this leaves one of us free to play with Ariella. We are staying in a beach villa this time with a pool and access to the lagoon so we will be taking lots of water toys and sand toys. I’m particularly fond of this Belgian company QUUT who make innovative beach toys so we may take some of these as they are all multifunctional.

Image credit to QUUT official website

  • Books – Ariella loves reading at the moment, I’ll be sure to bring quite a few of these as they are slim and easy to transport.
  • Swimming pool toys that float – As I mentioned above, we will have lots of water opportunities in the Maldives so I want to make sure that we use our environment for play.
  • A bucket and spade set from Melissa and Doug
  • A selection of familiar toys from home
  • Sticker book


We are taking her Tula toddler carrier, we won’t bother with the Stoke Xplory. We won’t be doing much walking due to the nature of being on a small island. I did look at travel strollers but we just don’t need it, it would probably be more difficult to navigate the sand with wheels anyway.

In our bags

Most of our clothing will be very light linen, beach cover ups, summer hats and I’ve dug out all the items I stored away from my last trip. The temperature averages between 29 – 32 degrees celsius but feels even hotter on the skin when you aren’t in shade. I wouldn’t bother with taking a jumper or cardigan as I don’t remember using mine once last time, even when it rains it’s warm. Think light, beach wear, sandals, flip flops, bare foot bliss.


Being Mum Featured Lifestyle Parenting Travel Weekly Update

Twenty Months – “Walking in a winter wonderland…”

Twenty months old, twenty. I guess we stop counting in months soon? Maybe when they reach two? To say they are only one for such a long time in which so much changes, seems silly so I understand why things still count in months. I guess if I was looking at clothes, they all seem to stop counting in months at two. Two it is then.

Sleigh Bells Ringing, Just hear those sleigh bells
ringing and jing ting tingaling too
Come on its lovely weather for
a sleigh ride together with you – Neil Diamond

We put the Christmas tree up this week, I wasn’t going to I know but looking at it every day sat out in the cold looking sorry for itself all wrapped up. Everyone else seemed to be putting their’s up and it only has to survive a couple of days without me topping up the water. Worst case scenario? The husband has to take it outside and saw an inch or two off the bottom again. Because I’m not doing it, having done it by myself while I was feeling all high and mighty during the start of the week I’ve decided that using a saw while simple involves quite a lot of physical effort and it’s definitely not for me! I did it though and I dragged it’s sorry self all the way up into the living room. Put it in it’s stand, unwrapped it, threaded all the lights myself and then decorated it. Where was little Ariella during this? She was napping, pretty good use of time in my view. My back does not agree but that’s an ongoing debate between me and it.

Taking a little rest while admiring the various hours of hard work

Taking a little rest while admiring the various hours of hard work

If you don’t have a Christmas tree stand for your real tree yet I really do recommend you spend a little more than you might normally and buy a Krinner. You can put the tree up by yourself as it has a little foot pedal and a great big water storage area.

In other news, we’ve ditched the bottle (hooray)! Ariella has slept through the whole night for quite a while but when we tried to remove the bed time bottle she was waking up in the middle of the night for milk. She definitely wasn’t waking due to hunger at this age and she didn’t really want the milk after all she wouldn’t drink it in a beaker cup. We decided to just go cold turkey, we explained to her that she was a big girl now and big girls don’t drink milk in a bottle. The first night was predictably dramatic, she had full blown tantrums, threw her arms around, threw her head back, screamed, cried, could not be comforted. We kept going in to reassure her and eventually she wore herself out when her efforts did not bring us running to her room with bottle in hand.

The second night, it was like a switch had flicked and she no longer woke for milk. Just a little whimper then soothed herself back to sleep. Third night in she didn’t wake at all, I did go have to go in and put the blankets over her again as she really loves to move around at night. But other than that she was totally asleep, I had no idea we would only be in for one night of tantrums. It feels really too good to be true!

We had our first hydrotherapy session on Wednesday and I had no idea what to expect, although Ariella did attend swimming lessons for many months I had never taken her myself. I also wasn’t sure exactly how hydrotherapy would be different to normal swimming, but from what I can tell the pool is warmer but so far most of the swimming exercises are on par with the likes of Waterbabies. Naturally the amount of children attending is a much smaller group, just three but this gave the two therapists plenty of one to one time to help out with the exercises. Ariella really enjoyed herself and spent most of the time laughing, It reminded me to book up some regular swim classes again as she really does enjoy the water (we stopped when we moved). One big difference as I said was the temperature which is comparable to being in a hot tub, so rather warm! Ariella has never liked a cold pool so this was perfect for her, for me I can’t say It bothered me too much but I do tend to have quite a good tolerance for warm water.

At our last physiotherapist session Ariella was given some orthopaedic footwear (Piedro) to aid her recently diagnosed hyper mobility, hyper mobility is in basic terms over flexible joints. We decided this week to put them on her routinely, so she now wears them from waking until bed time and this has really improved her walking hugely. I’ll definitely be looking at the Piedro brand for her next pair of shoes, they also do sandals so I’ll look to add those to our holiday list. The pricing of the footwear is greatly inflated but the extra support really helps gain confidence in the basic structure of the foot. Even when we take the boots off now she seems much more stable, so I’m sure the specifically designed footwear is having a large impact.

Watching Tv in new boots

Standing practice

This week has been a real run up to festivities for us, we had plans to attend a glitzy red carpet affair on the weekend and then continued that with a long weekend spa break. Both were exceptionally well timed, fun, relaxing and I think Ariella enjoyed spending a few days with her grandparents who offered up their babysitting service for the red carpet affair before heading into the Cotswolds. We greeted them at the door with a vomit soaked toddler, vomit covered mum and the external pieces of the car seat in hand. Everything was sponged down or washed, just in time for her second go hours later at which point we decided she was either car sick or unwell. As days past it was clear she had some kind of vomit bug given the car seat was covered once more (and currently sitting in the washing machine for a good deep clean).

Red carpet evening, child free!

Red carpet evening, child free!


Next in line was Calcot Manor & Spa in the Cotswolds, one of our favourite places to relax. They have an onsite creche which you can use included in the room rate when staying in the family rooms alongside the baby listening services. The Creche is such good fun, the staff are always very reassuring and all lovely. As well as this they have the most awesome spa with a blissful outdoor hot tub and top of the line treatments. We used to visit often before children and it’s remained consistently excellent throughout the years with a unique balance between catering for the couple market and also families. This is such difficult line to walk on! The food is top quality, the spa excellent, the family rooms lack nothing – they are as comfortable and accommodating as our own home. Perfect!

Calcot Manor

Christmas Tree outside

On this occasion we decided to go for a family suite as Ariella tends to get disturbed now when we come in and out of rooms. It’s not always an option but she did sleep a full 12 hours as normal here, the rooms are beautiful whether you have older children or younger. They are accommodated with tv’s, games, books and also the younger children have all the extras you might usually need to bring (steriliser, washing up liquid, nappy bin). Family Suite

The first evening we dine with Ariella at the children’s high tea then once she was asleep enjoyed some superb cocktails in the beautiful decorated lounge area with some of our close friends, with roaring fires and Christmas trees scattered throughout it was very relaxing. Just what we needed to unwind and prepare for the rest of our stay (as well as the treatments had scheduled at the spa). The following day we made use of the creche, dropped Ariella off and headed to the spa where we enjoyed spectacular massages – I opted for my usual hot stone but a much longer duration this time. We managed to change or creche booking to a little earlier so that we could enjoy the spa and the hot tub before our treatments, as we weren’t sure if we wanted to take Ariella swimming. The swimming times for children is quite a narrow window but as it turned out, Ariella wasn’t feeling very well anyway.

Cocktails with friends

Yummy lunch in the conservatory restaurant

Yummy lunch in the conservatory restaurant

The following evening we had a baby sitter booked in, the creche at Calcot offer baby sitting in the evenings which is really a treat. So that left us free to dine with more friends in the fine dining Conservatory, exceptional food and wine is on offer. It was so great to have a huge amount of time to ourselves, child free and I feel very much ready for Christmas now!